I kinda brought it on myself, I guess:
See, I had Tuesday available, it was gonna be fairly warm for the end of November. The capstan I had seen on the beach was….irritating me.
I had contacted several Lake Michigan shipwreck organizations and done some other research. Not much info was available. Folks knew of the wreck, some had seen the wooden ribs when the lake was low (It is fairly high right now and nothing is visible) but no one had any knowledge of any iron pieces on the wreck site.
So, Tuesday, I borrowed a pipe locator poker and off I go to the beach. Arriving about 10 AM, the temp is 46 or so, the wind is off the lake (making for a fairly warm breeze) at about 15 MPH.
I park the car, get the shovel, the poker and my backpack with measuring tape and camera and water and compass and such and off I go.
3/8 of a mile to the beach, 2 miles to the stream (Which was running high enough that I had to take off my boots and wade) and then another 1/4 mile or so to the (approximate) location.
(Since there had been storms and 4-6 foot waves the days before, I had hopes that Ma Nature would have smiled upon me and uncovered the thing (it happens)….She didn’t. If anything there was another 6 inches of sand over the area.)
I marked the area that my sightings from the previous trip said I should be looking at….this gave me an area about 50 foot (E/W) by 12 foot (N/S) to work in. I marked the area edges, and then consulted the photos I had taken. Sadly, Ma Nature had only left me one landmark from the pictures…(who would have thought a 70 foot tree with full branch crown buried half it’s length in the sand would have moved?) and marked another area as well. The two overlapped in an area about 30 foot by 5 foot.
I took the poker that I had carried for 2+ miles and began poking in the sand. Right off, I hit something. “Cool!” I said to myself….”Right at the start!”
Not so much….the sand was easily penetrated. Not so much the “shingle” underneath (which was the layer that had the iron item in it) The poker was useless.
Shit. Well, I had walked all this way, so I began using the “Mexican Backhoe” that I had brought along…..digging trenches about 5′ long and about a foot apart….LOTS of sand moved. There was about 2-2.5 feet of sand to get to the “shingle” then another foot into that….Each trench backfilling its predecessor….
I was on my 5th or 6th trench and stopped to take a break when a woman walked up. Now I’m not sure where she came from, as I had been keeping an eye on the approach from the stream side (to the west) and the park on the east side is closed (For bullshit reasons) by the National Park folks.
She asked what I was doing in a very snotty voice, implying that I was doing something wrong.
(and here is where I screwed up, I think)…”Gotta have someplace to put the bodies” I answered.
She looked at me and left without a word. Walking back to the “Closed” park…
I took a drink of water and got back to work.
About 2 hours later, as I was beginning to tire and had realized that this method of search was probably futile, I heard a shout. It was a National Park Ranger. He walked up and politely enquired as to what I was doing. I explained that I was looking for an artifact that I had found in a previous visit.
“Not hiding bodies?” He asked. (I guess she called) Yeah, Like I am gonna drag bodies (plural) two miles from Central Beach to here to bury em….on the beach. Not in the marsh a hundred feet from the road….
“Nope… Yer welcome to check” I offered him the shovel. He was still suspicious
“There isn’t any shipwreck here” he stated.
“There is, somewhere close here …We might well be standing on it right now ” I replied.
“I’ve been a ranger here for 12 years, and I am telling you, there isn’t any shipwreck here!”
“You must not get out on the beach much, Bud, cause there is a shipwreck here. . It gets buried and unburied about every 5 years or so. It was visible about 4 years ago…..I’ve been coming here since I was about 12, so in the past 40 years I might have seen JUST a bit more than you”….”Look it up on the DNR site if you don’t believe me….look for unknown #3….”
He decided than to be all asshole cop-like.
“I could charge you with “defacing public property.”
“For digging holes on the beach? You gonna charge every kid that builds a sandcastle too? Oh, and By The Way, Jack, you don’t have jurisdiction on the beach. That is State of Indiana, not Federal. You get to the top of the bluff, more or less. Not sure exactly where the line is, but I am SURE we are not on Federal jurisdiction. Call a DNR officer if you want to charge me. Now get out of my way”
(I was angry and not being diplomatic anymore, which didn’t help things)Why do some cops have the attitude that if it is outside of their experience it Must Be Wrong?
“Lemme see some ID”.
“You are required to show ID when asked by Law Enforcement …The law says so”.
“Nope. The law says I must identify myself when asked….. Not show ID“. I stated my name. ‘I have complied with the law”
He hemmed and hawed and I began shoveling again. (I was tired and about to give up on my search until Ranger Boy chose to be all officious. I dug another 5 trenches before he left….I asked him for a ride back to my car, but he told me to walk out the way I came….which was cool.
By now, I had moved several tons of wet sand. I was tired. I gathered my stuff and left. Walked back to the car, picking up trash along the way… Got almost an entire Menard’s bag of assorted trash.
I get to the parking lot, and Ranger Roger is there with a DNR officer…. UhOh.
The DNR guy was polite, asked me what I was looking for, etc. Kinda pushy, but polite. Implies that I have done something wrong.. We talk. I put things into the back of the car. I open the front door and start to lean in.
“Don’t do that!” they both say.
“You could be reaching for a weapon”.
(I actually kept my mouth shut here, instead of saying “If I wanted to shoot you, Ranger Boy would be dead (and buried) on the beach, and you, DNR-boy, would be bleeding out right now…”) I smiled and instead said. “Just reaching for my coffee”…. Held up the thermos cup…..”If you are accusing me…?” They assured me that they were just being cautious “for all our safety”…
So Ranger Boy was sure that I had done something wrong, and wanted DNR boy to charge me with “defacing the beach” since there “There is no shipwreck there”.
“Actually”, DNR officer says,”there is” He asked me exactly where I was looking and I gave him the best answer I could. “yep, that’s about right” he told Ranger Boy.
Ranger told me he was gonna search my car. I said “No. Get a warrant….I’ll wait”…and locked the door.
He then told me to leave. I was tempted to stay just to prove a point, but didn’t want to push it.
I left. He followed me back to Rt 12. I drove exactly 5 MPH under the speed limit so he wouldn’t be able to give me any hassle.
I gotta learn not to smart off to people.
Or just shut the fuck up.
I may never find the object, either.